When I realized I didn’t believe in Christianity anymore, I remember that I felt a little relieved. That relief came in the form of not having to reconcile certain teachings with reality anymore. One good example is finding a way to explain how the six-day creation myth several thousand years ago is real despite observations of galaxies millions of light years away. I don’t have to tell people that maybe the Bible wasn’t literally talking about six days, or that the universe was created earlier, or some other thing.
Bigger than that is the feeling of relief that I wouldn’t have to sit there and accept what was handed to me. Some people who never believed might get the relief of not having to deal with bullshit ideas, but they probably don’t have a frame of reference for that latter part. Imagine believing something for no other reason than people you trust believe it too, and that you must prove your trust to them by believing it too. Imagine that so many important events in your life are going to involve this idea to the point that it really dominates everything. Imagine having little doubts that you feel guilty for, because it means that people you care about will think you hate them or think less of them.
For those who aren’t familiar with the word, gavage is a term which means “forced feeding,” usually through some sort of tube or apparatus. I recently came across the word when I saw a video on YouTube about how foie gras is made. The term is quite appropriate for my use here in this post. In churches, many teachings are forced into young minds, along with a whole banquet of concepts that condition love and support on believing them too.
I can’t stress enough that belief in some guy dying and coming back after three days isn’t enough for most churches.
Even a lot of liberal churches here in the States will at the least wink and nod when some of the congregation is getting told that your parents have to discipline you if you refer to the Bible in a lighthearted manner. There’s a ton of willful blindness that goes on; one only needs to look at how congregations react to scandals to catch a glimpse of it. But what I’m getting at here is an institutional system of feeding people religious teachings with the condition that love, respect, and compassion can only be associated with these things. Without believing and showing others you love Jesus, you get nothing.
It’s like starving someone and then using a feeding tube anytime that person wants food. But because the teachings are thought of as necessary or good, it’s okay to do this to people. Think about it: it’s okay to tell people that they are only loved if they “accept Jesus into their hearts.”
But that isn’t all denominations, Christians, and people who attend churches, right?
If that’s the question getting asked, I’d say you’re missing the point. My point is that it happened to me, and it happens to a bunch of kids every day to varying degrees. Some of them will grow up just fine, their innate resilience or perhaps lack of insight shielding them from noticing how an allegedly unconditional love has the most conditions predicated upon it. Others – people like me who can’t help but stare at an obvious conclusion – aren’t going to be so lucky. These people are going to know they’re getting fed a bunch of horseshit, and it’s going to do all kinds of stuff to them.
If I can tell anyone who doubts their faith, or feels like it’s their fault for not being whatever enough for Jesus, I’d like to say that you are an intelligent person who needs to cut themselves some slack. It’s not your fault for a lot of stuff, and they can’t make it your fault. In fact, you’re probably feeling awful precisely because part of you is decent, and it’s that part that others’ faiths prey upon.
It’s okay to pass on the tube with mashed wafers and rancid communion wine.
Right now, I’m writing this as some people are watching a Christian movie that promotes the notion that Jesus heals…well, it doesn’t matter, does it? The lies are supposed to be uplifting, that religion and faith can turn bad people into saints. It conveniently ignores the sad truth that it ruins otherwise decent people. No, I can’t stop them from insisting on devouring this garbage.
To anyone who doesn’t want to feed on it, you don’t have to. Yes, realizing this isn’t always easy. Living a life moving away from faith might feel strange at first, but it does eventually work out. Like all things, it takes time.
I can say that the more time I’ve spent going away from faith, the better I’ve felt about it.